This year's conference ran over three days and offers up to 21 units of free, verifiable CPD. We explored a wide range of issues relevant to finance professionals today including megatrends, sustainability, technology, machine learning, audit, careers, diversity, leadership, new business models, public sector finance, economic crime, finance functions, corporate reporting, and much more.

A number of sessions covered the power of ethics, one of ACCA’s ‘big theme’.

Registration to attend this free event is still open. Members who didn’t join live can still register and catch up with all the sessions in the on-demand period.

Guest speakers included: ACCA’s talent doctor, Rob Yeung; Tom Seidenstein, the new chair of the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board; and Kevin Dancey, CEO at IFAC.

Programme

  • Megatrends in the profession

    This keynote session, a live discussion and Q&A, will explore the megatrends impacting the global accountancy profession. From the rapid ascent of digital to the growing pressure for long-term, sustainable value creation, evolving business models, the proliferation of risk and rapid demographic and talent shifts, these trends presents both challenges and significant opportunities for the profession as it moves to shape its own future – and that of the wider world.

    This session will set out how the profession can be a strategic influencer on that future by putting purpose, value, ethics, sustainability, trust, transparency and total value at the heart of everything it does.

    Speakers

    Helen Brand, chief executive, ACCA
    Steve Heathcote, chief executive officer, PrimeGlobal
    Jamie Lyon, portfolio lead – Professional Insights, ACCA
    Sheetal Vyas, lead director, PwC’s Disruption practice

  • Analytics: the powerhouse of the future profession?

    The opportunity of analytics is dramatically shaping the future of the profession. Featuring leading experts in the global analytics field, this session will explore what exactly we mean by analytics and why it is such an important emerging area of opportunity for finance teams.

    It will assess the 'state of play' in terms of analytics capability across the profession, as well as considering some of the prevailing challenges that exist. It will also examine the implications for finance teams in building out superior analytics capability.

    The session will help CFOs and other finance leaders in a range of businesses set an effective analytics agenda for their organisation and explore the broader role of finance in supporting organisational growth.

    Speakers

    Jamie Lyon, portfolio lead – Professional Insights, ACCA
    Matt Kearney, senior strategy director, NTT DATA UK
    Simon Driscoll, practice lead, Data & Intelligence, NTT DATA UK
    Ian Preston, vice president, EMEA, Vena Solutions

  • Can machines learn to be ethical?

    Artificial intelligence (AI) presents new opportunities like never before. But does it also present new challenges? Join Narayanan Vaidyanathan, head of business insights at ACCA for an engaging session that explores the ethical dimension of machine learning.

    Machine learning is a sub-set of AI and is generally understood as the ability of the system to make predictions or draw conclusions based on the analysis of a large historical data set. Increasingly used in accounting software and business process applications, as a finance professional, it’s important to understand how it can deployed in a way that is ethical and without compromising the public interest.

    Ethical issues ranging from biased data to establishing accountability between human and machine are considered. The session also features recorded footage from Brian Friedrich, board member at the International Ethics Standard Board for Accountants (IESBA). Brian explains IESBA's view on ethics more generally and the way technology is shaping their work.

    Speaker

    Narayanan Vaidyanathan, head of business insights, ACCA

  • Audit and technology – enabling, exploring, evolving

    Technology is transforming the accountancy profession, and its potential is being tapped into the audit sector. It is the audit enabler, but just how well is technology’s evolution and indelible impact on audit process understood?

    Robotic process automation, data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning are just some of the transformational technologies identified as the next chapters in the audit story. This live panel session will explore the breadth of tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities facing the external and internal auditor of today.

    This is your opportunity to gain insights on an ever-evolving aspect of the audit profession, and how it is intertwined with human talent, skill and judgment. We will be drawing on findings from our Audit and Technology report, a joint research project between ACCA and the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ).

    Join us from 12pm to hear to ensure you are future-ready to counter technology’s challenges and maximise its opportunities.

    Speakers

    Antonis Diolas, manager - audit and business law, ACCA
    Mike Suffield, director - Professional Insights, ACCA
    Stuart Cobb, MindBridge

  • Redefining how corporates create value

    The rising demand for companies to disclose their environment impact is driving change in corporate behaviour. ACCA is leading the way in calling for more concerted action to deal with the challenge of social and environmental value creation. This session will explore how finance teams should be at the leading edge of this revolution and how finance professionals can build their competencies to lead the required shift in values and mindsets demanded by business.

    Speakers

    Marjella Alma, CEO & co-founder, Datamaran
    Jimmy Greer, head of sustainability, ACCA
    Rhodri Preece, senior head of industry research, CFA Institute

  • Our digital future: new frontiers for professional accountants

    This session will focus on the Digital Accountant report that is due to be released in April 2020; although a member and student survey is being conducted in the two weeks commencing 1 November 2019. The objective of the research is that the accountant of the future will, in part, be defined by their digital capabilities. As a result, we can define a set of guiding capabilities for the accountant of the future that members can focus on in developing their skills.

    Speakers

    Monica Shupikai Simmons, director, ICON Corporate Finance
    Victoria Giles, associate director, Corporate Finance M&A, Grant Thornton UK LLP
    Alan Nelson, managing director, AccountingCPD.net
    Clive Webb, head of business management, ACCA
    Keith Jones, executive partner and author, Alchemy Worldwide Ltd

  • Radical innovation in the public finance function

    Public finance professionals believe that governments need to shift from the current dominance of incremental innovation to more radical forms. Significantly, 91% of public sector professionals report some type of innovation occurring in their organisations in the past 12 months. Join this session to learn how you can play a critical role in supporting innovation across your organisation, especially in executing the transition to more radical forms of practice and behaviour.

    Based on ACCA's research report Innovation in Public Finance, written by Alex Metcalfe, this session is grounded in specific examples of radical innovation in practice, showing you how to orientate your innovation compass to improve the public value provided by your organisation.

    Speakers

    Alex Metcalfe, head of public sector policy, ACCA
    Ian Burbidge, associate director, RSA Lab, RSA

  • Delivering diversity

    Diversity is one of ACCA’s values – along with accountability, innovation, integrity and opportunity. For us it means respecting and valuing difference, embracing diversity in our people and our output. But what does it mean to be a leader when diversity is very much on the corporate agenda? What particular skills and abilities should come to the fore?

    Our day two opening panel debate will examine these and other questions, looking at the challenges and opportunities ahead about diversity and what it means in our modern working lives. Expert panellists will address whether diversity in leadership is different for smaller businesses compared to large ones, and whether it actually matters to business in the face of technological developments.

    Tune in to our panellists to hear their views on diversity, leadership and the skills needed to be an excellent leader in a diverse world.

    Speakers

    Sharon Critchlow FCCA, director, Discover your bounce for business
    Sandra Quinn, partner - senior appointments and executive search, Barden Accounting & Tax
    Clive Webb, head of business management, ACCA
    Paul Barwick-Copeland, practice lead, NTT DATA UK
    Katy Bennett, people and organisation director, PwC

  • Office politics and your promotion

    Sometimes it can feel as if working life is rife with favouritism, scheming, backstabbing and other unethical behaviours. The question is: do we all need to engage in equally unsavoury behaviour in order to get ahead? In this insightful session, organisational psychologist and author Dr Rob Yeung will discuss some of the research on office politics and provide invaluable advice for not only surviving office politics but also raising your profile in an ethical fashion.

    Speaker

    Rob Yeung, organisational psychologist, Talentspace

  • 'Explainable' AI for financial services

    Financial services are actively involved in the exploration and use of artificial intelligence (AI) within their businesses. For example, lending decisions driven by a machine learning model hold the ability to look at a much wider set of input parameters, and to bring to the surface deep or hidden correlations that might not be obvious at first glance. The advantage of this could be the ability to lend to a wider pool who might not have previously qualified for credit.

    But along with this potential benefit, comes a greater need for explain-ability and accountability of the AI being used. This is needed for global banking regulatory compliance, fair customer outcomes and market stability. In other words, we need a blend of technology, risk, conduct and AI to achieve the inclusivity and benefit for all through the AI revolution.

    Listen in for a fascinating conversation when ACCA’s Narayanan Vaidyanathan, caught up with Janet Adams, head of risk, controls and AI at TSB’s Business Banking department to explore the issues.

    Speakers

    Janet Adams, head of risk and controls, head of AI, Business Banking, TSB
    Narayanan Vaidyanathan, head of business insights, ACCA

  • Stop the rot: what small businesses can do to manage the threat of bribery and corruption

    ACCA has revisited its groundbreaking 2013 global survey of the awareness and impacts of bribery and corruption on the SME population, drawing out the trends in understanding of the risks, and implementation of countermeasures.

    Speaker

    Jason Piper, policy lead - tax and business law, ACCA

  • Passionate practitioner

    The digital revolution has arrived at the small and medium-sized practice (SMP). For some it presents a challenge and for others it has provided them with a significant opportunity to develop new practices and provide a broad range of services to their clients. How did they achieve this? In our report The passionate practitioner we drew attention to the drivers for change and the approach that the SMP might wish to take in adopting a digital strategy. In this session four trailblazers will illustrate their experiences and lessons learned. Our panel will add their own commentary based on their own, and very different, experiences.

  • CPD to lifelong learning

    Why should you do CPD? What’s in it for you? In this session we'll look at the benefits of CPD, how it contributes to lifelong learning, and what that means for you and your organisation. We’ll also showcase resources available to support you and your teams in taking the critical step to adopting continuous learning and answer all the questions you might have.

    Speakers

    Sharon Waithe, professional development products manager, ACCA
    Clare Hodgson, head of professional development products, ACCA
    Emilia Todorova, professional development manager, ACCA

  • Sizing up the economy – do we need a new approach?

    In a volatile world, how should we measure the economy in a meaningful way? Join ACCA’s chief economist, Michael Taylor with Anne McElvoy, senior editor at The Economist for a fascinating look at new methods in measuring our global economy. They will examine environmental factors, well-being and social value and inequality. This session will offer members the opportunity to consider some of the biggest economic issues of our time.

    A major drawback of traditional measures of economic activity, such as GDP, is that they fail to correct for so-called externalities ie when market prices do not fully reflect actual costs imposed on society: carbon emissions are an obvious example. Can we remedy this? How far should companies move away from profit maximisation and explicitly aim for other social goals? Michael Taylor and Anne McElvoy will discuss these issues and how business and financial institutions might evolve to support sustainable growth.

    Speakers

    Michael Taylor, chief economist, ACCA
    Anne McElvoy, senior editor, The Economist

  • IFRS hot topics

    This session on hot topics in financial reporting will feature an overview from the IASB of its current work programme, including IFRS 17, Insurance Contracts; goodwill; and performance reporting. There will then be a presentation on the impact of the implementation of IFRS 16, Leases; and discussion around accounting for intangible assets.

    Speakers

    Sue Lloyd, vice-chair, IASB
    Jessica Taurae, partner, PwC
    Andrew Lennard, director of research, FRC
    Richard Martin, head of corporate reporting, ACCA

  • Audit: pride and professionalism

    With the role and purpose of quality audit still as live a question as ever, this session hears from IAASB’s incoming chairman Tom Seidenstein on the professional challenges, making the standard setting process more agile and collaborative, and how auditors need to rediscover pride in their work. ACCA's director of professional insights Mike Suffield leads a discussion on how audit can deal with emerging issues, ensure professional scepticism remains front of mind, and how restoring pride and purpose can attract the best and brightest to audit.

    Speakers

    Tom Seidenstein, chair, IAASB
    Maggie McGhee, executive director - governance, ACCA
    Mike Suffield, director, Professional Insights
    Christabel Cowling, head of regulatory affairs, EY and chair of the firms' UK Professional Reputation Group

  • Economic crime in a digital age

    Economic crime is as old as the stores and flows of value that underpin economic activity itself. But with every advance in technology, criminals have sought to turn developments to their advantage, from 3rd century insurance fraud to the emergence of long firm frauds in the 19th century.

    EY and ACCA experts have contributed to a new report, exploring the implications for the public, the profession and regulators of the latest advances in digital technology. Tune in to hear how existing crimes have become easier and new ones developed. The delivery mechanisms may have changed, but human nature remains the same.

    Learn about the impacts for auditors, and the views of regulators on how they can work with the profession to best improve detection and prevention of economic crime in a digital age.

  • Reporting on climate change

    This session will provide an overview of current trends and challenges around environmental, sustainability and governance (ESG) reporting. Our expert speakers will also offer practical guidance and real-life examples of what disclosures to make and how, and useful resources for more guidance.

    Speakers

    Wim Bartels, expert from Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and KPMG partner
    Barbara Davidson, consultant and former head of investor relations, IASB
    Richard Martin, head of corporate reporting, ACCA

  • Promise for the public sector

    Public finance professionals believe that governments need to shift from the current dominance of incremental innovation to more radical forms. Significantly, 91% of public sector professionals report some type of innovation occurring in their organisations in the past 12 months. Join this session to learn how you can play a critical role in supporting innovation across your organisation, especially in executing the transition to more radical forms of practice and behaviour.

    Based on ACCA's research report Innovation in Public Finance, written by Alex Metcalfe, this session is grounded in specific examples of radical innovation in practice, showing you how to orientate your innovation compass to improve the public value provided by your organisation.

    Speakers

    Alex Metcalfe, head of public sector policy, ACCA
    Ian Burbidge, associate director, RSA Lab, RSA

  • Tax: a key tool to tackle climate change

    Tax reform will be key to tackle the climate crisis. As fears over the climate change hot up, one viable response is for governments to use the tax system to provide clear financial and fiscal incentives for businesses.

    In this session hear from Femke Groothuis, president of the Ex’tax Project, about how changing the tax base – putting a price on pollution and using the revenues for social impact – could benefit low income countries. In particular, learn from the experience of Bangladesh – a country particularly vulnerable to climate disruption - where policies are being aligned to sustainable development goals (SDGs) in a bid to reduce resource use and harmful emissions while at the same time simulating the economy and creating jobs and increasing incomes. Is this a model all countries should be adopting now?

    Speakers

    Femke Groothuis, founder and president of The Ex’tax Project
    Jason Piper, policy lead - tax and business law, ACCA

  • Finance function future

    Finance functions are facing significant challenges in remaining relevant in the face of multiple disruptive factors. In their joint report Finance: a journey to the future? ACCA and PwC explored the dynamics impacting the finance function through six hypotheses that looked to the future. Since the publication of the report in May 2019 several groups of members have discussed their views. In this session we will explore the opinions of what the future might be – especially if we started with a blank sheet of paper.

    Speakers

    Clive Webb, head of business management, ACCA
    Brian Furness, partner, PwC UK
    Brendan Sheehan, CEO, White Squires and ACCA council member
    Liz Blackburn, Finance RBS and ACCA council member
    Helen Morgan, former finance director of KGB